There are so many different things a person can become addicted to. Video games, drugs, alcohol, pornography, the internet, sex, etc. Use your imagination. There is help for all different sorts of addictions. There is a lot of misunderstanding among addiction.
What Kinds of Addictions
Substances, behaviors, and thoughts are all types of things you can get addicted to. For example, a behavior you can get addicted to is an eating disorder. It, like any other addiction, begins in the brain. The brain is always affected in any addiction. Having an eating disorder is having some sort of distorted or excessively negative body image. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. It has been reported that eating disorders affect up to 30 million people in the US alone. In a lot of cases, people with eating disorders also suffer from depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse issues. What a lot of addictions run hand-in-hand. For example, someone that uses methamphetamine for days at a time may drink heavily when they begin to crash. They may even use prescription drugs, like benzodiazepines, to help themselves come down from a long period of meth use. These drugs, and others, have such an effect on the brain that it changes addict’s and alcoholic’s moral compasses. All addictions affect a person’s wellbeing. Depending on the drug it may be in different ways, but it does and will. Addictions affect families, friends, or careers in negative ways.
The Science Surrounding Addiction
Many people just do not understand addiction and addicts themselves. ‘Just stopping’ in most cases is not a realistic option. Addiction is a complex disease that has taken a very long time to begin to understand what addiction is and what it does. Substances change the way the brain functions. It changes the brain in ways that make quitting almost impossible for those who try, even if they really want to. Today, thanks to science researchers know more about the effects substances have on the brain and body. The research that began to change in the 1930s has enabled them to find out what kind of treatments that can actually help addicts and alcoholics alike. The stigma of addiction stalled research for a long time. Back then, scientists had to work with society looking down on them for even thinking that being addicted to a substance is nor just a lack of willpower. In more recent years, addictive behaviors and thoughts have been given the attention they need. Mental illnesses are not just ‘crazy people’. Mental illnesses are chemical imbalances in the brain.
When the brain was finally fairly studied, discoveries that were made that revolutionized our understanding of different types of addictions. It has enabled us to learn how to properly treat all these types of addictions. It begins with the brain. We now know that addiction is a disease that affects the brain and changes behaviors. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), we have identified many of the biological and environmental risk factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disorder. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug use takes on individuals, families, and communities.
How to Help
Everyone and anyone can help with our nation’s addiction problem. Whether it be helping a loved one reach out for help or even just shedding light on the topic- it helps. The Daily Health Wire offers 7 helpful tips for anyone looking to help out.
- Educate yourself. Do some research on addiction itself. If a loved one is struggling with a certain type of addiction research that substance or behavior.
- Get Support. Whether you are the addict or not dealing with an addicted loved one takes an unhealthy toll on your own mental health. Seek out support and information that can help you.
- Get Counseling. Talking with someone about your feelings and your hurt can help take a load off of your own shoulders. You feel the effects of an addiction, too. Talk about it.
- Do Not Enable. You may think you are helping by enabling an addict or alcoholic, but in reality, you are helping the addiction continue. Do not give an addict money because it may help them ‘feel better’, it is only hurting the addict and yourself.
- Have Realistic Expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Recovery is a marathon- not a race. It will take time for everyone to heal. It will take time for an addict to relearn how to live a sober life. Set realistic goals to avoid disappointment and resentments.
- Take Care of Yourself. This may be the most important tip. You need to be mentally healthy to handle the hurdles that come along with living with either actively using addict or an addict in recovery. Take time to touch base with yourself to ensure that you are putting yourself first and keeping yourself calm.
Addiction is and always has been a problem. It went from being completely misunderstood to being researched with unbiased eyes. However, the public stigma is still something we need to work on. I have said before that no one sets out to become an addict or alcoholic, but it happens every day. We can work on this together. Together is the only way that we can make real change.